Expert independent judging panel announced for £2m Innovation in Water Challenge

Posted on: 16/02/2021
Engineers assesing waste treatment plant with drone

KTN’s Digital Manufacturing expert Nicole Ballantyne joins the Water Challenge panel to engender new collaborations to tackle industry challenges.

Ofwat’s inaugural £2m Innovation in Water Challenge, run in partnership with Nesta Challenges, Arup and Isle Utilities, aims to stimulate innovative responses to tackle key challenges facing the water sector.

The expert panel of eight independent judges includes leaders from across the water industry and other sectors, including manufacturing and energy, with expertise in issues such as consumer protection and collaboration.

The competition is open to all water companies and their partners; submit your ideas by 26 Feb and win up to £250,000.

16 February 2021Ofwat and Nesta Challenges are today revealing the judging panel for the inaugural £2 million Innovation in Water Challenge, which aims to help tackle the biggest challenges facing the water industry.

Led by Ofwat, in partnership with Nesta Challenges, Arup and Isle Utilities, the Challenge is looking for collaborative and innovative initiatives that will meet the evolving needs of customers, society and the environment in the years to come. The challenges it seeks to address range from achieving net zero, to protecting natural ecosystems from leakages or pollution and delivering better value for money for water customers in England and Wales.

The inaugural Challenge is the first of two launching this year as part of Ofwat’s £200 million Innovation Fund. It aims to support innovative initiatives that the water sector would otherwise be unable to invest in or explore – with each winning entrant receiving between £50,000 and £250,000. It is open to water companies and NAVs (new appointments and variations) from England and Wales together with partner organisations (which may be outside of the water sector).

Boasting a number of experts and leaders within the industry and other related sectors, the independent eight-person strong judging panel are:

Nicole Ballantyne – Knowledge Transfer Manager (Manufacturing), KTN

“At KTN we embrace ideas with curious minds and use our insight to uncover opportunity.  We are committed to working at pace and with agility to connect across sectors, people and geographies to respond to these challenges and drive positive change through innovation.  I’d love to see solutions from outside the water sector being embedded and new multidisciplinary/multi-sector collaborations forming to work together to tackle the challenges we know are facing us.”

Myrtle Dawes – Solution Centre Director, Oil and Gas Technology Centre

Chris Newsome – Director, UK Water Partnership

Dragan Savic – CEO, KWR Water Research Institute

Adam Scorer – Chief Executive, National Energy Action

Rachel Skinner – Executive Director (Transport), WSP Global, and President, Institution of Civil Engineers (Chair)

Lila Thompson – Chief Executive, British Water

Rhodri Williams – Wales Chair, Consumer Council for Water

The judges’ breadth of expertise  will bring insights from both water and other sectors, as well as a deep understanding of innovation itself and customer concerns.

John Russell, Senior Director at Ofwat, commented: “We have a fantastic panel of judges working together with us on this Challenge – drawing expertise from a number of sectors and disciplines that, together, will bring invaluable insight to the judging and assessing process. We believe partnerships and collaboration are at the heart of meeting the challenges facing the water industry – and we are looking forward to receiving new and exciting ideas that will help change the sector for years to come.”

To find out more and apply for the IWC visit The deadline for entries is 12 noon (GMT) on 26 February 2021, with the winners of the IWC announced in March.

Share this article

Related Content


Connect with Innovate UK Business Connect

Join Innovate UK Business Connect's mailing list to receive updates on funding opportunities, events and to access Innovate UK Business Connect's deep expertise. Please check your email to confirm your subscription and select your area(s) of interest.